Plants, Protestors and new Flower Bed

Our local young artists have been busy again this summer creating delightful messages and momentos at the Cumberland Piazza. Funded by Hotels & Cliftonwood Community Association 2021 summer arts activities were once again led by Mhairi Stuart, who designed clay ornaments for people to make and ‘hide’ amongst the plants. She also showed us how to decorate and plant old fruit juice cartons.

Anna encouraged participants to add to The Sun Will Rise and So Will We protest posters begun at the Come Rain Come Shine festival in July. We have a bit more care and repair to give to these characters and we welcome all members of the community to share their ideas and opinions with us- although we do paint over offensive language and racist and misogynist phrases that sometimes sadly appear in our local public spaces.

The Sun Will Rise and So Will We is a project led by Grace Kress and Anna Haydock-Wilson that has grown from conversations about equality and how communities can amplify their voices in shared public spaces. The idea is that we can all have a say in how our cities and society can progress to benefit everyone. You can find out a little more about the project here

Making a Flower Bed

We had this idea that it would be good to create a flower bed from a dysfunctional bed, knowing that it’s really difficult to recycle old mattresses due to safety and hygiene. Some online research demonstrated lots of examples of vertical planters made from the springs, but the only use for the stuffing seemed to be refugees growing food in camps in arid countries. While adapting their ideas, in our space with no immediate tap water but in a country and city of abundant wealth, we reflected on the level of privilege we take for granted as well as on those in the UK who live in poverty and in unsanitary conditions.

This is something you can make at home!

You will need:

  • An unusable bed frame– if you have an old bed that you don’t want any more, please consider donating it to someone who can’t afford to buy one, either through Freecycle, Gumtree or through charities like Emmaus and Sofa.
  • An old mattress– these are harder to donate but this post is helpful
  • A few plants
  • A bit of soil
  • Some old plastic (we used soil bags)
  • Some heavy duty wire cutters, a screw driver, some screws, etc.

Cut the mattress cover away and dispose of it. Create space in and around the springs by moving the stuffing around. Secure the frame via any available means- wood batons, brackets, etc. Remember it only had to hold plants, not people. In this case we were using parts of an old bed and an old cot that had collapsed after several small children had used them. Line the bottom with plastic sheeting. Punch hols for drainage. Put the mattress on top, add soil and plants, then add some grit or pea gravel. Water well to start with. Remember that th idea with the mattress stuffing is that it will hold water so once the plants are established the idea is they may not need watering at all!

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